By Rebecca Gaunt
Pisano’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen unveiled a mural depicting local athlete Justin Fields in early April in anticipation of the NFL draft. The only things missing were the team jersey and city approval.
The mural initially showed 22-year-old Fields, a Harrison High School graduate, in a blank jersey with the words “Defeat The Noise. Rule The Quiet.” After he was drafted to the Chicago Bears in the 2021 NFL draft, the jersey was updated to reflect the team colors of orange and navy blue.
In order to have the mural up in time for the draft, Pisano’s violated the City of Kennesaw zoning ordinance pertaining to proper approval procedures. The city was notified of the restaurant’s intention to install a mural, but additional steps were not followed prior to installation.The restaurant received a citation from code enforcement on April 27, with a June 8 court date and up to $1,000 in fines. However, city officials said they were willing to work with the owners to complete the official process and possibly reduce the fine.
“Normally…if they don’t get proper approvals and things of that nature the fine is going to be $1,000 plus surcharge. If they do, they will probably reduce it to $270,” City Attorney Randall Bentley told the Council at last week’s work session.
Kennesaw City Council approved the mural unanimously Monday. It first had to receive approval from the Kennesaw Art and Culture Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). Reaction from the public has been positive. Part of the approval process required official notification of adjoining property owners. There have been no complaints.
The restaurant is required to upkeep the mural per city ordinance. It is located in the central business district, just outside the historic district, which has stricter requirements for public art.
Fields was the starting quarterback at Harrison and went on to play for the University of Georgia in 2018. He then transferred to Ohio State University, where he played from 2019-2020. He was drafted to Chicago in the first round, 11th pick on April 28.
Manager and co-owner Michael Judvytis told the HPC that Fields’ family frequently eats at the restaurant. Since some of the employees also went to school with Fields, he was a natural choice when the restaurant decided to honor someone local.
Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.